Psychotic depression is a subtype of major depression and occurs when a severe depressive illness includes symptoms such as hallucinations, feelings of worthlessness, and dissociation from the reality, such that the patient feels like they are in some other kind of their own world, and this is how they tend to behave. This kind of illness comes in episodes and may turn out to be chronic and last for as long as two years or more depending on the age of the patient. Other episodes last less than twenty four months. It is important to note that patients with this malady generally function well between episodes because they do not find these symptoms absurd in any way. So, care should be taken when addressing them or when interacting with them because they are more prone to commit suicide and other extreme vices, either to themselves or to other people and things in their milieu.
The symptoms of psychotic depression include: feelings of anxiety, insomnia, physical immobility, hallucinations, too much worry or talk about their health, a term in psychiatry known as hypochondria and affects the functioning of upper stomach- small intestines. These patients also experience the feeling of impatience and they therefore tend to flare at the slightest opportunity over trivial matters. They also experience memory loss.
The major causes of psychotic depression are not known however a claim that the underlying cause of the illnesses is majorly stress: both biological and psychological, is in existence. Addressing such deep-rooted cases includes examination of the life history of the patient. This helps to address the dynamic pressure and hence unsafe conditions that lead to triggering of this malady. These may range from trauma from past experiences such as rape, abrupt change in the way of living say after the occurrence of a major disaster, to dissatisfaction in the workplace or simply a low perception of one’s capability.
Psychotic depression treatment can vary from close follow-up and observation by medical practitioners to daily therapy by close family members. Different medications are used to stabilize the person’s mood, including combinations of both antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs. The latter is known to repair communication between nerve cells in areas of the brain hence the patient is able to recover from both memory loss and hallucinations. These drugs include Olanzapine, Ziprasidone, among others. It is good to note that each of these has unique side effects and may differ in its clinical efficacy profile. It is important for the patient to work with the doctor to find the most effective drugs. Medical treatment is very effective and patients are able to recover within a short period, usually less than a year.
It is important to note that there has been rampant increase in the number of psychotic depression patients in the past 5 years. Researchers have attributed this increase to the many changes that are taking place inclusive of climate change- change in global temperatures, increase in frequency, intensity and magnitude of both natural and human-made disasters.